Outside of VHEL, I'm at work on another game project which I'll stay tight lipped about until the time is right. With this newer project, my focus is on more fanatical storyline themes and plot devices, so in many ways, it's a departure for me as a writer. In addition, the newer game also borrows unique elements from VHEL, but even then, those gameplay elements are being pushed in every other direction to meet specific goals. Again, another case of dealing with the unfamiliar. The art is also something I've yet to do before using the tools I have currently. Basically, it's a step to the side from VHEL's visuals, and then takes a left turn on "this is...interesting" street.
All newness aside, I believe the biggest issue thus far, for me, has been the complexity, and the establishment of a core gameplay mechanic. I seriously dislike rehashing the same ideas, and even more so hate focusing on violence. Yes, violence is virtually in EVERY game, but that doesn't mean I have to stoop to that level as well -- this is part of the reason why VHEL is built around "EVADING the enemy". Ironically enough, when I first started pre-production for the new game, I had finished up the design in less than a week. It was fairly simple to do since my design methodologies are so fine tuned; and even though the game was indefinitely unique and fun in it's own right, I found it depressingly superficial.
Looking at the type of characters I have for said game, it seemed like the best thing to do was to do some soul searching for a different type of experience. Now what that may be is beyond me, for the moment. I've looked at Phoenix Wright, a lot of the older adventure games, Majora's Mask, SMT Nocturne extensively, and even Ghost 'n Goblins. I've also taken time to look at various psychological films and anime to see what type of game I can draw out from, perhaps, the exploration of the human mind (Tim Schafer be damned!).
Hopefully I'll get out of this writer's block so I can FINALLY get some solid design work done. I love the characters to this new game a lot -- I really do. I think they compete very well with the VHEL characters, which is one of the reasons why I've decided to even work on this new game. Only time will tell what will become of this. Admittedly, even VHEL went through 7 years worth of re-visualizing to get right. I don't want to take another 7 years with this. >>